Ex-Facebook recruiter speaks out about ‘a problematic system’ that fails to deliver diverse talent

Getty Images

A former Facebook recruiter is speaking out against the tech giant’s hiring system and workplace culture, which he says fail to reach the company’s diversity goals and alienates people of color. 

Rhett Lindsey, who left Facebook in November after working there for just 11 months, told The Washington Post in an interview published Tuesday that the metrics the company has adopted in its hiring system fail to actually recruit diverse talent. 

Lindsey alleged that some potential candidates can be rejected over vague terms like “cultural fit,” noting that at least a dozen qualified applicants of color who he referred for interviews to Facebook were eventually rejected in part due to this reasoning. 

“There is no culture fit check mark on an application form, but at Facebook it is like this invisible cloud that hangs over candidates of color,” he explained. 

Lindsey, as well as other current and former Black employees involved in Facebook hiring efforts, also told the Post about problematic workplace culture that they said can be harmful to workers of color. 

For example, Lindsey recounted one August 2020 incident in which he attended a virtual meeting to talk about Facebook’s efforts to hire more Black engineers. 

According to videos of the meeting reviewed by the Post, a white manager played a Drake song in the background whose chorus repeats the phrase “Where the [n-word]s be at?” five times. 

Lindsey asked in the chat system during the meeting why they were playing the song, adding that he was “really disappointed,” which was followed by nine other employees also vocalizing their frustration. 

The Post reported that a manager eventually apologized, though Lindsey said the incident “shows you the insensitivity and the lack of awareness.” 

The allegations from Lindsey, who has since launched his own startup to promote diversity and inclusion in job recruiting, come as Facebook also faces an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claim filed by potential job recruits last summer. 

Facebook operations manager Oscar Veneszee Jr., who is Black and still works at the company, along with two applicants who were denied jobs brought the claim in July, and a third rejected applicant joined the case in December, Reuters reported last month. 

Veneszee told the Post Tuesday that more than half a dozen qualified candidates from minority groups who he submitted to Facebook were all rejected because they were not deemed a “cultural fit.” 

However, when reached for comment, Facebook told The Hill that the company does not measure candidates for cultural fit, but that potential employees are asked how they would respond to specific situations and if these line up with Facebook’s “five core values.” 

Facebook also told The Hill that it does not complete visual inspections of job candidates, and recruiters are instead asked to use objective criteria in measuring candidates, such as membership in a professional society. 

A Facebook spokesperson said in a statement, “We’re focused on diversity and inclusivity as well as advancing racial justice, both in our own workplace as well as in how we recruit candidates to work here,” and that it has “added diversity and inclusion goals to senior leaders’ performance reviews.” 

“We take seriously allegations of discrimination and have robust policies and processes in place for employees to report concerns, including concerns about micro aggressions and policy violations,” the spokesperson added.

Tags diversity and inclusion Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Facebook job interview recruiting Reuters The Washington Post workplace culture
See all Hill.TV See all Video